Dartmouth Teachers and Taxpayers Need Truth [OPINION]
Dartmouth has started an important conversation about how much it costs to provide quality education to the kids who attend their public schools. Truth matters.
According to the Standard-Times, School Committee member Dr. Shannon Jenkins favors an increase in property taxes to fund an increase in the wages and benefits for school faculty members: "She said that even under a recent pay increase, some entry-level faculty members, after health insurance deductions, 'net less than $100 per week. It’s not right, and we’ve been doing this within the school budget for years.'"
While that figure seems hard to swallow, I will assume it is the truth. I don't believe Professor Jenkins would make up a figure so outrageous and I assume she has more information on the matter than I do at the moment. I haven't seen a correction in the paper, either, so I assume the reporter got the quote correct.
I spent some time reviewing the 50-page contract between the Dartmouth Educators Association and the town to see what the salary range is for school teachers. You can review it yourself here.
The lowest salary on the teachers' salary schedule for 2019 is $46,416. The highest salary on that schedule is $85,667. The teachers are paid this salary for working between September and June of each year. Each teacher has 15 days of sick time per year and they have the ability to roll over unused sick time each year.
According to the contract, "the accumulation of sick leave days shall be unlimited." When a teacher retires they can sell back up to 150 their unused sick days to the district as long as they have worked in the district for at least 10 years. Each of the first 50 days are currently worth $15, and the remaining 100 days are worth $20 apiece.
The taxpayers of Dartmouth pay a lower rate than some other local communities charge. There is an argument to be made that the district's teachers should be paid more. However, the taxpayers need to be given all of the information if they are going to transfer more of their money to the government to fund the salaries and benefits of teachers.
Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.